DIY Vegetable Garden Boxes from Upcycled Shipping Crates

by Charlotte Walker
container gardeing with old crates

We had a couple of years where we lived in a really cool house with a river in the back yard, and it had some beautiful flower gardens and a koi fish pond but no place for vegetables. The land was primarily rock. We needed to grow food, so we started to look for ideas on how we could grow a vegetable garden. There are so many innovative ideas being shared online.  It would seem that you can use just about any vessel to grow food. I love the use of old bathtubs & canoes.  We didn’t have anything we could re-use and lumber was extremely expensive.  We ended up coming up with an economical and creative way to grow a lot of food using vegetable garden boxes made from re-purposed crates.

IMG_1468Think Outside the Box

You don’t have to spend a fortune when creating a raised bed garden.  During my morning coffee and Kijiji ritual, I found an interesting solution. A trucking company in Peterborough was selling wooden shipping crates. The photos presented a nice looking product and the dimensions were pretty lose to what we needed. This was really exciting! We would of course need to drill drainage holes and make a few easy modifications but most of the work was already done. These boxes were near perfect!

IMG_1471Price Compare and Evaluate

After a lot of questions and answers, we bought them. I paid $12 per box plus transportation (which I also found on Kijiji). We end up buying twenty boxes which actually equals forty containers (each box has a top and a bottom). This provided us with 360 square foot of garden space and about 9 square feet of planting per container and cost about $240 plus shipping.

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Verify The Wood is Heat Treated

You want to verify that your crates and pallets are heat treated and not fumigated with  methyl bromide. Heat treated will have a marking … and methyl bromide will have a stamp with MB.  Although lots of people use MB treated pallets and have lived to tell the tale, I don’t like the idea of containing food in treated wood.

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Pay it forward – A Happy Ending

We ended up moving after only two growing seasons with the boxes and needed to get rid of most of these boxes before the new owners took possession of the house. We decided to put an ad on Kijiji and give them away. We thought it might be nice to spread a little bit of gardening cheer around town. I wondered if anyone would want them but there was no need to worry. The same day that we advertised the boxes they were all spoken for!

Family after family showed up with shovels and buckets. We helped them load the dirt into their buckets, load the boxes into their trucks and away they went happy. Each family shared a personal story about wanting to  grow food, be more self sufficient and teach their kids where food comes from. It was absolutely wonderful and rewarding.

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